Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola joked that he substituted Erling Haaland in Saturday’s 6-0 win over Burnley in the FA Cup as he didn’t want him to break another record of Lionel Messi’s.
The Norwegian striker continued his fine debut season in England by netting his sixth hat-trick for the Cityzens on Saturday evening.
This treble came just days after he put five of Man City’s seven past RB Leipzig in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 tie.
That haul meant Haaland joined Messi as the only two players to have scored five goals in the knockout stages of the Champions League.
While the 22-year-old went in search of a double hat-trick, Guardiola substituted him with just under half an hour to play, prompting conspiracy theories on social media that this was to preserve Messi’s place in the record books.
Guardiola hauled Haaland at a similar point during Man City’s demolition of Burnley, and speaking to the media post-match, appeared to recognise what had been said about his relationship with Messi earlier this week.
“Eight goals in four days. I played 11 years in Barcelona and scored 11 goals!” Guardiola began.
“He did it. It’s incredible. I made a substitution to him at three goals to not break the record to Messi in the FA Cup.”
For the avoidance of doubt, no, Messi has never played in the FA Cup.